The M Word

Her: “Do you want kids?”

Me: “Today I do. I don’t know about tomorrow.”

I’ve been recently thinking about how different my life would be if I had a child. Specifically, Am I really ready to give up my time? 

I know that there are big unspeakable sacrifices to be made when one decides to bring life into this world. And I know that somehow, if I decide to take that step, I will gladly accept that challenge. But is it selfish to say otherwise, that I don’t want to fully and completely give up my time EVER? Does this somehow, make me a bad person? Not a “real” woman because I don’t want to be a mother?

No. As actress Joy Bryant eloquently points out in her essay defending her life decision:

Motherhood, in all its beautiful significance, is a job I do not want.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think I can handle it. That doesn’t mean I don’t admire and honor all the mothers in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a special heart for the children I use my skills and training to service. It just means I can make a choice on what my purpose is going in this lifetime. And I shouldn’t have to defend it, but depending on the approach, I don’t mind engaging in the conversation.

I’m not sure what stance I take. I haven’t completely decided. These days, I’m not only fantasizing of the “fairy tale” of motherhood, but also of the habits I don’t want to change in my life. The sacrifices that are not in poems on Mother’s Day cards or very much talked about.

I like to sleep. I like to eat out excessively, I like to wake up when my body wakes me up on Saturdays. I like to work on my schedule. I like my weekends, and every second of free time that I can steal during the week. I like my life this way.

Speaking, writing, and living my truth. No apologies.


The M Word

Dear Momma

Today was the deadline for the Thanks-A-Thousand $1,000 scholarship sponsored by Western Union. The rules are simple: submit a photo, picture or note to someone you want to thank.

Although it’s Father’s Day, I penned a quick Thank You note to my mother. Because it felt right.


When it comes to your unconditional love for me… I’m at a loss.

No words are sufficient.

You had me at 16 years old, scared and unsure without having a mother of your own available at the time.

Time and time again, when the opportunity showed up for you to leave me behind…

You chose Love.

You chose Responsibility.

You chose Honor.

You chose me.


Even when I didn’t have the best, I had YOUR best and that was enough.

If I’ve never say it in plainest terms…


I want to say today,

Thank You. For choosing me.

Dear Momma

ReCording Life: Traces of She

Chapters.  If you divided your life into chapters what would you call them? What chapter are you in now? What chapter is next?

1. Little Tica: I recall my early years in Costa Rica. Excursions with my mom (who I was instructed to address as ‘Betty‘) and way-older boyfriend to the beach house. My life was not much bigger than my mother, our house, my barrio and school.

2. New York, New York: In December of 1992, days before Christmas, Betty moves us to Queens to live with my grandmother.  I enter second grade in a local public school with a bilingual setting. I excel rapidly at English, am placed in regular English-speaking class by the fourth grade. By this grade, it is also discovered that I am squinting at everything and need glasses. Enter insecurity-issues. By sixth grade, American parents have noticed that I address my mother by first name and have pressured her into forcing me to call her ‘Mom.’

3. Black Girl Lost: Through most of my school years I identified with what people had assumed I was… ‘light-skinned.’ I had no real connection to Costa Rica, having never traveled back home nor kept any tico traditions at home. All I had were the isolated memories and current events that may have been slightly addressed in grown-folks conversations. My family looked no different than any other African-American family, and I never felt any real need to make any distinctions.

4. Lonely, Only Child: I went through tough bouts of depression in my pre-teen and teenage years. Mom and I were never really close as mother-daughter, and the fact that she kept constant boyfriends in between us didn’t help. I journaled a lot, to the point that my writing would get me in trouble when it was discovered snooped by Mom. Mom also had an overpowering fear that I would become a teenage mother, and was extremely stiffling. Eventually, since I couldn’t leave the house, I learned to use the internet as a way to recreate myself. I could become anyone I wanted to online. I chatted with older men online, being an utter attention-craver, but never went as far as meeting them.

5. College Daze: Upon HS graduation, I began to differentiate between Black people and me. The difference was 9 digits, and I didn’t have them. I wasn’t born in the United States, I was an immigrant. No immigration status translated into no hopes for college since I didn’t have the luxury of financial aide.

6. Fatherly Duties: Through the grace of God, my father (who had been estranged most of my childhood years), an American citizen, expresses wishes to file an application for me to obtain residency. It was not an easy process, but it gets done months before the deadline of my 21st birthday. I finish my Associate’s Degree on academic scholarship, and graduate with a BA degree in English in 2010. Through 4 years of my undergrad, I’m also employed full time as a legal secretary.

I guess I would call the Chapter I’m in right now, Adulthood, but that sounds so cliche. Currently, I’m a grad-school hopeful, tired of a job and looking for my career. Trying to find a place in this world where I fit. I want to work in the field that was pre-destined for me. I want to be the minority in this world who loves what they do.

The next chapter I hope will be called Commitments. As much as I try to make myself sound like this flighty, free-spirit I do long for stability. I do want to start a family, where a husband is key to the equation. I’m trying not to be cynical about marriage although it’s hard to be hopeful when all I see is ruins from couples who didn’t make it. I also long to be someone’s Mama, because bringing a life into this world is also another reason why no one can ever convince me that God does not exist. I want to be part of miracle-making, be honored with the task of a light-bearing Mama.

What chapter of life are you currently in? 



ReCording Life: Traces of She

Me, Mami & Lady Liberty


Both my parents live in different states. My father lives in Boston and my mother chose the tropical hurricane-prone and humidity of the Sunshine State. I love retreating to her state when I need a quick get-away, but for her, coming to NY is usually for personal business and not so much pleasure. This time around, we decided to follow the tourist route and visit Lady Liberty, a lady I have admired on tours only from boats along the island of Manhattan but have never in 16 years of living in New York City visited the actual island where she resides.

$15 dollars later we secured our tour to Liberty Island and Ellis Island (if you want to actually enter the platform or crown of the Statue, that’s a whole ‘nother line and fee that we were too impatient for) and find our line to make our way to the ferry. An hour and a half later, we reached the security clearance which is basically like a small airport security operation sans having to remove your shoes. Finally, we were ready to board the ferry at 1:45pm.

While we were waiting on line, 2 Brazilian men behind us proceeded to make small talk. One of them asked the age-old conundrum of why I was just visiting Lady Liberty having lived in New York City for so many years. My answer… when you live in a city for so long, you tend to subconsciously take landmarks and places for granted thinking they are always going to be there. So for me, there was never really a rush. Also, unlike other states there really is no ‘NY resident’ discount for tickets to attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the countless of other tourist attractions. Money makes all the difference.

Spending time with my mother is always a trip. Simply put, my mom is an animated character. She’s known to laugh with her whole body, use English expressions the wrong way (think Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara minus the annoying accent), and want to make friends WHEREVER she goes. Some of her habits irk me easily at this point, even though they shouldn’t because I already know those are just her unique ways. So instead of sit here and list of the things that annoy me about mommy dearest, I’m going to list the top 4 things that make my mom better than the average mom.

  • SHE’S FLYER THAN YOUR AVERAGE 40-SOMETHING. I mean really, how many moms can pull this look off?
  • SHE’S THE BAG LADY OF ALL BAG LADIES. Need a mini-flashlight? antibacterial wipe? q-tip? Corona? condom? Bible? floatie device? toilet paper? change of clothes? Mom’s got it covered.
  • SHE WILL DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING I ASK OF HER. One of the fascinating facts about Ellis Island that I learned is that immigrants of African descent from the islands were registered through there, not just Europeans like I had originally thought. In the museum on Ellis Island, they have poster-sized pictures of immigrants in some exhibits and I saw some well-dressed West Indian women from the island of Guadeloupe. I then turned and said to mami, Look your sisters, go take a picture with them! And like a great sport, here’s how a mom makes a daughter crack up on Ellis Island.

  • SHE HAS CONTAGIOUS LAUGHTERMy mom will laugh at her own jokes if need be. If that’s not loving yourself I don’t know what is.
I love her,
She Traces
Me, Mami & Lady Liberty